On 2003-07-01, Marko Paunovic uttered to [EMAIL PROTECTED]:

>Because gene for "not wanting children" will not be around for too long,
>but only for one generation.

Not true. For instance, such a gene could have positive effects on the
other people in your tribe (say, added time for common childcare, which is
quite common in orang-outang communities), so the gene might well be
self-propagating in the social evolutionary sense. I mean, you only need
trivial economic analysis to show that specialisation is useful, and so
having a percentage of individuals who do not breed but do some other
useful work for the community could prove very advantageous.

Why on earth should we presume evolution couldn't take advantage of basic
economics, when it has lead to far more nontrivial consequences? Genes do
not care about individuals. They only care about their own survival. Why
should we presume individuals have some special place in the theory of

>It might be good for your genes to "invest" all your time and money in
>one child or two children.

But historically they haven't, just as they don't in less developed
countries today. Thanks to our knowledge of biology we also see that the
genes in those surroundings are pretty much the same as ours. So where's
the difference?

The real difference is that there are other forces at work here besides
Darwinian evolution. Cultural evolution is the prime one -- it has long
since overtaken its biological counterpart, just about everywhere. To put
it bluntly, if you can at least farm, you're no longer guided solely by
biological dictates. Instead it's information which guides your life.
Economics still applies, but it isn't as trivial as in the simple case of
evolutionary biology.

>> Human genes endow people with the intelligence to choose not to have
>> children when the cost and risk are high.


>I can't really see a situation where decision not to have children is
>good for your genes.

Okay. Say you have faulty genes which do not affect your basic
reproductive ability? Like when you're stupid but oh-so-horny? That isn't
a trait that would directly interconnect with your ability to breed (your
groin ain't your brain), so a naive analysis would suggest stupidity is
irrelevant. But we all know painfully well it ain't.

The example goes to show that the link between your genotype and your
ability to breed isn't a direct one. Nowadays I wouldn't actually expect
any precise, scientific model to be able to capture the precise dynamics
of mating and procreation. In the stone age, maybe, but not today -- since
then we did invent nylon, lubrication, lipstick, fermented beverages and
industrial strength black clothing. It's the same with not having kids.
Biological principles alone fail to explain that.

I'm also pretty sure this disconnect is what makes us talk about evolution
on lists having to do with economics.
Sampo Syreeni, aka decoy - mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED], tel:+358-50-5756111
student/math+cs/helsinki university, http://www.iki.fi/~decoy/front
openpgp: 050985C2/025E D175 ABE5 027C 9494 EEB0 E090 8BA9 0509 85C2

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